We have long understood that tackling an issue such as climate change requires the whole community. Whether we’re talking about a local community, a national community or a global community, addressing an issue of this magnitude necessitates collaboration among a wide range of diverse individuals, businesses and organizations. Climate action is a community endeavor.
In the Seward neighborhood of Minneapolis, Birchwood Cafe is building just the sort of engaged and empowered community that we need to advance climate solutions in our city and beyond. By creating a gathering space where patrons flock to share good food and connect with good ideas, the Birchwood has fostered a community of active citizens who care about a range of issues affecting the food system, the environment, and their fellow citizens.
Given how well our work to encourage community-based action on climate change aligns with the Birchwood community, we’re thrilled to partner with the cafe for the inaugural months of their Birchwood Boost initiative, a community partnership program they launched on MLK Day this past month. In the words of the Birchwood, the program is a way “to give our customers and staff deeper opportunities to learn and engage in making the world a better place for all of us.”
In that vein, we will be tabling, hosting a Booster Club dinner, convening a youth lobby day training, and showing a screening of “Minnesota Stories in a Changing Climate” at the Cafe during the months of the partnership, February and March. At the end of these two months, Birchwood is donating the proceeds from their “Be the Change” round-up at the register as well as a share of the proceeds from the dinner to benefit our 11th annual Summer Institute for Climate Change Education, to be held January 21-24, 2016 at Macalester College in St. Paul. Birchwood owner Tracy Singleton is excited to channel the funds to our teacher training efforts, as, in her words, “teachers provide the seeds of climate literacy and awareness for their students. The Birchwood is thrilled to contribute to this ripple effect.”
Our history of collaboration with the Birchwood makes this new partnership feel like a natural off-shoot. For several years now, Tracy has been generously donating food for our Summer Institutes, and in fall of 2014, we kicked off our Dine for Climate fundraising series with a packed house at the Birchwood. As Tracy says,
“We’ve worked with Climate Generation (formerly the Will Steger Foundation) in the past, and are so impressed with how they energetically educate, reach out, and engage all kinds of people, especially young people, in this critical issue at this crucial time for our planet. We are excited to partner with them, and to explore and learn about issues that affect us all. Climate Generation provides so many points of action for staff and customers. Their work on building awareness of how a healthy food system can lessen our impact on the climate, as well as their focus on climate justice and social equity, mean that their values align all the more closely with ours at the Birchwood.”
It is wonderful to see a restaurant that recognizes the broader impacts of its food supply on the community, the environment and the climate. For our Dine for Climate series, we created a brochure that highlighted the food-climate change connection. This connection was recently the focus of a joint report from the National Science and Technology Council, the U.S. Global Change Research Program, and U.S. Department of Agriculture, called “Climate Change, Global Food Security and the U.S. Food System,” which found that, “Climate change is very likely to affect global, regional, and local food security by disrupting food availability, decreasing access to food, and making utilization more difficult.” Birchwood takes this connection a step further: beyond being aware of this interface, the Cafe is a vibrant example of how a localized food system can be a climate solution.